I have worked hard to reach where I am today – Katrina Kaif
For someone who has made it to the top league all by herself, Katrina Kaif is not among the ones who would give up easily. She is constantly working hard to prove her critics wrong and with several blockbuster films in her kitty, Katrina is surely enjoying the last laugh. She is signed on by some of the best brands in the world, and recently made her debut at Cannes as a L’Oreal Paris ambassador. She is worshipped by millions of fans on social media, despite the fact that she does not have a single official account on any digital platform (except the Twitter account, which was created solely for her Cannes debut). Her love life has always been in the public eye, thanks to the fact that she is reportedly dating one of Bollywood’s most loved heart throb – Ranbir Kapoor. But despite all this, Katrina’s main goal has always been signing good films. She returns to the big screen almost after a year with Phantom, her third film with director Kabir Khan and second with actor Saif Ali after Race. Katrina is visibly excited, thanks to her challenging role in the film.
I met the actress on a Friday, when her schedule was super packed with multiple interviews, and a few shoots at Mehboob Studios. Eventually, our interview got delayed by a few hours and we finally settled down for a conversation at around 9:30 pm, when the two of us were visibly tired. Looking gorgeous as ever, dressed in a white shirt and brown pencil fit skirt, she politely apologised for the delay and made sure that I was comfortable. “Sorry to ruin your Friday night plans,” she said. I smiled, thanking her for the kind gesture and replied, “No plans, actually! I am only looking forward to catching up on some sleep. Its been a long day.” After a little chat and discussing how sleep is a much needed luxury, we finally got down to business – A tete-a-tete with Katrina, where she talks about Phantom, journey as an actor, why she hates the malicious reports about her love life, wedding and more.
Did you get a chance to watch any of the recently released films?
Oh yes! I saw Brothers and absolutely loved the film. Did you see Akshay and his incredible new look? I thought he was phenomenal. To look so fit and perform fantastic stunts at his age is commendable. I also got a chance to watch Baahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan recently. Baahubali made for a visual treat. I was so mesmerised with the visuals, that I didn’t even realise when the film got over. Bajrangi.. left me feeling happy, because initially I was worried if Kabir would dilute his voice or lose the style that he is known for. We have done two films together and he is a very unique director. Like even in Ek Tha Tiger, Salman’s look had a different edge to it. So, I was curious to see what Kabir has done in Bajrangi.. and was really surprised to see the final product. I think it shocked everyone. It was a wonderful film, and the girl (Harshaali) was really beautiful. Also, I think Salman has performed this way after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
So, do you think the success of Bajrangi Bhaijaan will give the right push to Phantom?
Absolutely! I agree. Plus, it will do well on its own as well, because as I said, Kabir has a unique approach towards all his films and he has got a very strong credibility. And while people believe that Phantom was pushed ahead due to Bajrangi… it is not true. There were a few delays and also, there came a point where either Bang Bang or Phantom could release. There is an unspoken rule where the film that goes on the floors first, should release first. So, although it was a tough, it was a complicated decision and ultimately, we decided to give Phantom some more time in the post-production phase.
Are you slowly getting comfortable in the action space after films like Bang Bang and Dhoom 3?
Well, yes! But although Phantom has action, it is situational action, where you gotta face the enemies, run, jump and shoot. But its not the kind where you gotta build your physique in a certain way, which will help you look a certain part, like Akshay and Sidharth in Brothers. I am yet to fully try something like that. But, I guess I dabbled with a similar thing in Dhoom 3, where I tried my hand at acrobats in a few portions like songs like Malang and Kamli. Although it you guys saw it for a short time, a lot of training went into it.
Your look in Phantom is very raw and edgy.
Yeah! Plus, there is no focus on make up and hair like most hardcore action films. I would see my stylists in the morning and that’s it, we would only meet later in the night. We just went for a messy hair do, because Kabir did not want me to look all glamorous. We would just use an occasional summa in the eye, you know, to just give it a visually different look. Its really not a film where the girl needs to think about her look. Also, I personally think that acting has nothing to do with your looks. Its not like if you see yourself in the mirror without make up, then you will get the part right. Its the connect that you have with your character, eventually. The overall appearance is just an added icing on the cake.
Do you think actresses today are less bothered about how they look on or off screen?
Yes, we are not in an age where people are only bothered about their looks and are constantly experimenting with make up, at least I am not. If you are like that, then its a foolish thing. You are what you are and you will ultimately look your age. Time doesn’t wait for anyone, and if there is anyone, then its a foolish thing to follow. I have no problem playing any age or getting into a certain look on screen. If the script demands it, I will do it. You will see me do something different in Kal Jisne Dekha (tentative title). But its not like what the reports suggest (which say that she will be wearing prosthetics in the film). Nitya’s approach is completely different and I was completely taken aback.
What do you think has been your biggest takeaway from the film (Phantom)?
Well, every film teaches you a lot and so has Phantom. It was a long and hard journey for all of us. The film was really tight since the scripting stage and we were all prepared since the time we came on board. From all the films that I have done with Kabir, this was one film where I saw him being extremely passionate about the story. The roots and base story required that kind of passion, and fortunately, we saw how even the producers supported the film wholeheartedly. They haven’t left a single stone unturned to make sure that this film turns out well. So in a way, there was something to learn from everyone.
Do you think Kabir Khan is one director who has always tapped into your potential and portrayed the female characters on a large scale?
Absolutely! Kabir will always portray strong women characters, because that’s how he sees women. A man will always write stronger roles for women, mostly depending on his own perception about women. Kabir sees women as independent, capable, strong minded and in equal means to any man. As far as tapping my potential is concerned, I think that varies from film to film. In New York, everything fell into place, while Ek Tha Tiger had other plus points and then Phantom was completely different experience. Also, Kabir will never offer me something forcefully, where I have to say yes immediately. Kabir has got a strong integrity about his work. I certainly think Kabir and I have a great understanding and working with him is always special.
Talking about third film with Ranbir, Jagga Jasoos, which is a highly anticipated project. Do you think your chemistry with him in the film will surpass what we saw in Rajneeti and Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahaani?
(smiles) I can vouch for the fact that our chemistry will only be better than what you saw in the earlier films. And a lot will depend on how Jagga Jasoos turns out, because your chemistry will get appreciated only if the audience receives the film well. And that’s exactly what Anurag Basu is trying to do. He has got a very different voice, and his style of film making is very unique, which is why the film is taking time. He is an artist, who has a bohemian approach and likes doing things according to his time. There were random reports of an argument between us, and they were all false. Everyone knows how sweet Anurag is, and even on the sets we would have a great time. It’s like, I would say “Dada, I wanna go home,” and he will be like, “Ya okay, go.” One can talk, discuss and do everything when he is around, Dada is a free spirit. Instead of following rumours and reports, the audience should just wait and see Dada’s world unfold on the big screen, once its ready for release.
You are working with Ranbir for the third time. How do you think the two of you have grown as actors?
I have grown by leaps and bounds. I don’t know about Ranbir (smiles). See, he was always a superb actor. There are several other great actors, but I personally think that Ranbir is a great comic actor. He was brilliant in Ajab Prem… and the credit also goes to Raj Kumar Santoshi’s excellent guidance. Even when I think about some of those dialogues today, I can’t stop laughing. Also, people must remember that Ranbir came into this industry with a lot of training. A lot of people, including me, were not that lucky enough to get professional training before making a debut in Bollywood.
Ranbir went through a slightly rough phase professionally. With Tamasha creating a good buzz, what are your thoughts?
For an actor, its painful when your films aren’t doing well. Every actor must go through a phase of ups and downs, because only then will you appreciate what you have. It helps you become a stronger person. I know Ranbir loves his fans and he breathes, lives cinema. No one can challenge that passion and commitment. These ups and downs have happened in almost every star’s life, be it Shah Rukh, Salman or Aamir. I have complete confidence and belief that Tamasha will do extremely well and Ranbir will be amazing in it. I wish the team a lot of success and I am quite sure Ranbir will be back with a bang with this film.
How do you react to the reports about your private life, especially stories about you and Ranbir. Does it affect you?
I have got used to it. Its okay! As long as its not malicious and nasty, I am fine. As far as I can remember, it has happened to be 3-4 times, where the rumours and reports were very nasty. And yes, I have fought back. I am a human being, after all, and being nasty is not a very nice thing. There have been cases where journalists, whom I have known for years, would be nice to me during interviews and then turn around to pass malicious reports. I am not talking about random gossip, where news about me attending a birthday or dinner are floated around. These are the really bad ones, which can hurt an individual mentally. It has happened to me, and I was very disturbed. But for the most part, it doesn’t matter to me, because the small reports like getting engaged on my birthday and stuff are harmless. Its sweet, but unfortunately, its not true (laughs). It’s a little difficult for me to understand that why would anyone try to hide their engagement or a wonderful thing such as marriage. Nobody will do that, unless the person is extremely private, like Mr. Aditya Chopra may. Like I don’t know when he got engaged. But that’s not me or Ranbir. What is marriage after all? Beyond all the rituals, its a celebration of two people coming together. So, a celebration won’t be a secret. I definitely want my wedding to be a big event. There is so no doubt about it. Its just not happening now. And I don’t understand why people get so excited about an actor’s wedding or why do they want a woman to get married off quickly? Are we trying to say that every woman’s destiny is only to get married? I am tired of saying the same thing, but still, there will be false reports of us getting married. Its weird!
Are there any specific genres that you are looking at exploring in the future?
I think every actor wants to do a memorable role or film. Everyone is in search of that, and even I am in search of it everyday. But right now, my choices are only based on what interests and excites me. Fitoor is one film that really excited me, because I was in love with the script.
Any plans of making a official debut on Twitter, unlike the one you did exclusively for Cannes and L’Oreal Paris?
But when I go on Twitter, I need at least 13 – 14 million followers (laughs). If there are just a few lakhs, it means I shouldn’t go for it (laughs). Well, I’ll think about it.
What do you think about your competitors in the industry?
Honestly, I feel healthy competition is always welcome. Otherwise, you get all lazy and feel relaxed, which is a human tendency. But competition reminds us that if you don’t focus or don’t put in an extra effort, someone else might do just that and take a leap. In an industry where focus and dedication is a necessity, I think competition is very important. I don’t mind working with my contemporaries if the script demands it, but I think its the right time in the industry to make a multi-starrer, like a Maharabharat. It’s been long since someone did that, and it would be great to see some of the best actors coming together for one big star cast film.
How do you look back at your journey so far? Did you imagine you would come this far?
Imagine, yes. Because its our dreams and imaginations that drive us. I have worked hard to reach where I am today. Despite being someone who did not belong to any film family, I was always very passionate about my goals and achievements. I was very focussed about my work, but in a very passionate and clean way. Every actor wants to be accepted by the audience, so I would go to a temple and pray for my film, for my fans to continue loving me and to get accepted as an actor. My permanent wish has always been the fact that my audience enjoys and loves watching my films.
Before we end this conversation, I would like to know, what do you like the most about living in India?
I love the chaos of this country. We may complain about the traffic, mess and all that, but its important. There is a beauty in that chaos, which just shows the warmth of this country. If you travel across the globe, you won’t find a more warmer country than India. The culture and hospitality is unmatchable. But on the offside, I don’t like the poverty. Its really sad and in certain parts, the situation is terrible. We really need to get together and do something about it.
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